The United States on Monday said the Syrian government had constructed a crematorium at one of its military prison complexes to dispose of bodies of detainees that are being killed there allegedly at an alarmingly high rate of 50 a day.
“We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison," Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat for West Asia, told reporters.
They were being killed in mass hangings.
Jones said the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad had “sunk to a new level of depravity” with the support of Russia and Iran but he denied Russia or Iran had any role in these killings or the disposal of bodies.
Jones refused to say these allegations could lead to further US military action, saying the US will not telegraph its intentions. The US bombed a Syrian airfield last month that had been used to drop chemical bombs on a rebel-held region.
The information for these allegations came from human rights and other such bodies and intelligence assessment. The official released overhead pictures of the Saydnaya military prison, said to be one of the most notorious in the country.
An estimated 5,000 to 13,000 prisoners were killed at the prison from March 2011 to December 2015, said a report called "Human Slaughterhouse" issued in February by the Amnesty International human rights organisation.
The official said 400,000 people, mostly civilians, had died in the Syrian civil war so far.